Christina Henderson

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Christina Kirk Henderson
very tidy woman of about 40 maybe
Christina Henderson
Born 15 August 1861
Melbourne, Australia
Died 27 September 1953 (aged 92)
Christchurch, New Zealand
Alma mater Canterbury College
Relatives Elizabeth McCombs (sister); Stella Henderson (sister)

Christina Kirk Henderson (15 August 1861 – 27 September 1953) was a New Zealand teacher, feminist, prohibitionist, social reformer and editor.

Early life

Henderson was born in Melbourne, Victoria, Australia on 15 August 1861, one of nine children of Alice and Daniel Henderson.[1] The family moved to Kaiapoi, North Canterbury, New Zealand, and later Ashburton before settling in Christchurch. When she was young - "barely in her teens" - she became an unpaid pupil-teacher at Ashburton School.[2] She then won a scholarship to Christchurch Normal School to continue her training. Once she had completed her certificates she was briefly headmistress of the Normal School. Henderson taught at Springston School in rural Canterbury from 1883 to 1885, and continued to study in the evenings and weekends through Canterbury College for a Bachelor of Arts degree; she graduated in 1891.[1]


From 1886 to 1912 Henderson was a staff member at Christchurch Girls' High School. She taught Latin and English and became first assistant in 1889; she also served as acting principal in 1898.[1]

Henderson was involved in a number of social justice causes. She campaigned for equal pay for women teachers from the beginning of her career, and started the Canterbury Women Teachers' Association.[2] She fought for women's suffrage, and was a foundation member of the National Council of Women in 1896.[2] She also campaigned for temperance and was involved with the Christchurch Prohibition League and the Woman's Christian Temperance Union. She was president of the Christchurch branch of the WCTU for 20 years.[2]

In addition, she was involved with the Presbyterian Women's Missionary Union of New Zealand, serving as president and as secretary, and for over 20 years was editor of the organisation's magazine.[1]

Henderson was one of New Zealand's first women Justices of the Peace.[2]


Several of Henderson's siblings were also notable - her sister Stella was a journalist and the first woman parliamentary reporter for a major New Zealand newspaper; another sister, Elizabeth, became New Zealand's first woman Member of Parliament.[3] A third sister, Alice, was a Presbyterian missionary in India, and her brother Alexander became editor of the Christchurch Star-Sun newspaper.[1][4]


  1. ^ a b c d e Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "Henderson, Christina Kirk". Retrieved 2016-06-10. 
  2. ^ a b c d e Macdonald, Charlotte (ed.) (1991). The Book of New Zealand Women. Wellington, New Zealand: Bridget Williams Books. pp. 285–6. ISBN 0 908912 04 8. 
  3. ^ Taonga, New Zealand Ministry for Culture and Heritage Te Manatu. "Henderson, Stella May". Retrieved 2016-06-10. 
  4. ^ "Madras Indian Mission History". Retrieved 2016-06-10. 
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